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Orana Arts Receives International Attention for its New Arts-Based Rehabilitation Program

Orana Arts has received international attention for a new arts-based rehabilitation program it is helping pilot at the Macquarie Correctional Centre in Wellington, in inland New South Wales.

Orana Arts’ Executive Director, Alicia Leggett, appeared on the University of Michigan’s panel Beyond the Boom Gate: Orana Arts in Australian Prisons, which detailed Orana Arts’ new Creative and Social Investment (CSI) program, and discussed its arts-based rehabilitation model from a management, community, artistic and inmate perspective.

The innovative program is the first of its kind in Australia and is currently being run in two centres. Facilitated by Orana Arts, inmates are invested in as creative entrepreneurs or artists and supported to pursue creative projects in visual arts or music. The programs aim to increase mental health, build creative skills and create new life opportunities and sustainable futures for when inmate sentences are complete.

7 artists are employed by Orana Arts for the program, which currently delivers 16 courses in visual arts and music to over 300 participants per quarter. There are also an additional 4 artists engaged in residence for pop-up workshops in areas such as graphic design, creative writing and ceramics, as well as support from arts organisations such as the Australian Museum, galleries and curators.

Visual arts participants can create artistic products, which when sold will provide finances for participants, their families and victims of crime. Inmates with the talent and desire to become professional artists can also work with curators and contemporary artists to develop their skills and receive mentorship.

Meanwhile, music participants can build foundation skills in guitar, songwriting and vocals, while also learning about recording, podcasts and community broadcasting.

The CSI program is being delivered at a time where NSW incarceration rates are at their highest since Federation – the NSW prison population grew 20% from 2013-2015, and continues to grow with 550 new inmates per quarter. Over 48% of prisoners released return within 2 years, and in 2016, the state government announced a $3.8 billion program to expand prison capacity and create over 7,000 extra beds by 2020.

Orana Arts is a not-for-profit peak body for arts and cultural development in regional New South Wales. It supports and advocates for arts and culture through programs and projects that help communities participate in the arts and provide opportunities for artists.

The Macquarie Correctional Centre houses prisoners in dormitory-style accommodation, with 25 inmates in each of the 16 ‘pods’ – there are no cells. All inmates work for up to five hours and undertake education and other programs during the day.

For more information visit the Orana Arts website or email